Medicare is cracking down on over 700 U.S. hospitals for having high rates of potentially avoidable infections and injuries, known collectively as “hospital-acquired conditions,” Kaiser Health News reports. These hospitals will all lose one percent of every Medicare payment made for a year. In determining penalties, Medicare looked at the incidence of three types of hospital-acquired conditions: central line–associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs), catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs), and various severe complications caused by preventable injuries, such as blood clots, bed sores, and falls.
The penalties—estimated to amount to over $330 million per year—come after the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a 17 percent decrease in hospital-acquired infection and injury from 2010 to 2013. Despite this progress, health officials say that hospitals should be doing more, and that rates of hospital-acquired infection and injury are still far too high. A 2012 government report estimated that one in eight patients hospitalized in the United States faces potentially avoidable hospital-acquired conditions. The CDC also estimated that in 2011, 1 in 25 hospitalized patients acquired some type of infection, resulting in over 75,000 deaths for that year.
Medicare hopes that these penalties will encourage hospitals to work hard to reduce their rates of hospital-acquired conditions. “We want hospitals focused on patient safety and we want them laser-focused on eliminating patient harm,” stated Dr. Patrick Conway of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Hospital-acquired conditions continue to flourish in hospitals due to poor management and policy implementation. Medical experts have urged hospital personnel to be more diligent with hand-washing and sterilization procedures, and recommended that hospital management emphasize the importance of avoiding infection by well-known bacteria like C. difficile and MRSA—not just new and highly-publicized threats such as Ebola.
The experienced lawyers at Lopez McHugh are dedicated to helping victims of medical malpractice. If you believe you or a loved one acquired a hospital-related condition due to an uncontrolled outbreak, contact our team of attorneys for a free consultation, and find out whether a medical malpractice lawsuit is right for you.